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July 27, 2006
Cartel Inching Away from DRM Police State?
Probably not, but let's at least note a couple of steps. First, Yahoo announced that it's doing a trial "downlad unencumbered MP3s" service. As always, the devil is in the details, but on the surface it appears you'd just pay double the going rate (USD 1.99) and get an MP3 of decent quality that you could actually treat as owned music rather than rented.
Yahoo's justification is that it's simply more economical to do things this way rather than build cumbersome and expensive DRM systems for hackers to practice on. OK, that's not exactly what they said, but that's the gist. Of course the Cartel hasn't actually signed on to this deal so it may go nowhere.
What the Cartel (at least Sony-BMG) has done is use this as a publicity stunt. They've released one song, in 500 versions, each with a different "personalized" name in them. Yahoo! Music customers can search for, puchase, and download a copy of the song that presumably matches their name or a name they care about.
The USA Today story linked above quotes the EFF's Fred Lohman saying "It's about time." Which I guess is about the politest thing one can say about this level of effort on the Cartel's part.
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